GPS recommendations

   #1  

Oaktree

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Wife's been bugging me to do a road trip, we're figuring on taking it next year and I was considering getting a GPS. Usually I just go with a road atlas (and still plan to use that over the big picture) but they don't show much detail beyond the state/federal highways.
I've seen off brand ones on Amazon for fairly cheap money? Any experience with these? How do they compare to a Garmin? Don't want to spend a lot on something that we probably won't use that much, but also want something that's gonna work.

I don't have (or want) a smart phone, so that option is off the table.
 
   #2  

RickB

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Garmin.
Buy one with a decent sized display and lifetime map updates.
Smartphones are great but where there is no cell service you cannot beat an old school Garmin. I do not plan on being without one.
 
   #3  

kenmbz

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I use off line maps on my smartphone when in Utah etc.
Agreed, Garmin, and make sure lifetime updates.Things change all the time. Not having real time traffic would be a deal breaker for me though.
 
   #4  

RickB

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I use off line maps on my smartphone when in Utah etc.
Agreed, Garmin, and make sure lifetime updates.Things change all the time. Not having real time traffic would be a deal breaker for me though.

Garmin has traffic info if you get one set up for it.
 
   #5  

deserteagle71

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Garmin.
Buy one with a decent sized display and lifetime map updates.
Smartphones are great but where there is no cell service you cannot beat an old school Garmin. I do not plan on being without one.

All smart phones (at least, any current name brand one) have GPS circuitry built in. Cell service IS NOT needed for the cell phone to function as a GPS unit. The problem is visibility of the phone screen - if you set it to full brightness and staying on constantly, you quickly use up the battery so it needs to be plugged in. That, plus the maps that are included with the cell phone suck (at least here in the West!). They don't show any of the minor (dirt) roads. You can download any number of apps, depending on what you intend to do with the phone GPS, but then you have to learn how to use it and the maps generally are not up-to-date.

At last count I believe I have something like 7 GPS units that I've accumulated through the years. Most are Garmin but a couple are Delorme (which recently was swallowed up by Garmin). The people I've talked to who have tried the off-brand GPS units were not very happy with them. If you get a Garmin automotive unit it will come with City Navigator maps; Garmin updates these at least twice a year so you'll always have the latest maps. But City Navigator maps are strictly for main roads - they also don't show a lot of the minor dirt roads. Which is not a problem - you can go to a site like gpsfiledepot.com and download free topo maps for whatever state you are interested in and they will be very detailed. Then you can choose which maps you want to display on your GPS unit. The other thing very handy about having an automotive unit with the City Navigator maps is that you will have an updated listed of service stations, motels, eateries, etc. - choose which category you are looking for and the GPS will bring up all options within so many miles. Or choose an address, enter it into the GPS unit and it will guide you right to that address.

I don't know how I survived without a GPS unit for all these years....I would have never known there was a "Boobs" Canyon to explore if it didn't pop up on my GPS unit!
P1001133r.jpg
 
   #6  

dodge man

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Not trying to sell you a cell phone but maybe help someone else, but in my F150, which doesn’t have built in navigation, if I plug my phone in the maps show up on the built in screen and it gives turn by turn directions over the radio. My phone came with Waze on it, it updates all the time to. I used it the first time yesterday to look at what exits were closed in the Quad Cities area. Kind of handy for that. One advantage of the smart phones is the maps update automatically and for free.
 
  
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Oaktree

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Thanks for the info, Looks like a Garmin is the way to go. Traffic option seems to add almost 50% to the price, and from what I can tell from the write-ups still requires a "compatible" smart phone so in my case seems like a waste of money. Probably much more handy for commuters.

I notice Amazon lists a lot of refurb/used units. Good idea or not? I'm a bit skeptical about buying used...if it was working OK, why would someone get rid of it? I can't imagine new ones are all that much better than one only a few years old.

Also, is an outside antenna a good idea? I had one in my company truck at the last place I worked, and it seemed to take forever to lock on satellites thru the windshield...an external antenna was pretty much a must, but this would have been an early-mid 00s vintage unit, I would hope newer ones would be better.
 
   #8  

Liquidsilver

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I'm a big fan of the Garmin dash-top units, but they are pretty difficult to learn to use really effectively.

I HAVE to use specialized GPS (like the backpacking kind) when I'm in extreme backwoods motorcycling where smart phones don't work... and they are made to get wet and dirty and banged around.

BUT... for a roadtrip on public highways, nothing compares to the smartphone apps like Google Maps and Waze, in my opinion. They use real-time traffic data and the location info from the thousands of vehicles around you to help you navigate and avoid traffic tie-ups. They also usually know when there's a temporary road closure that a traditional GPS will hijack you on. Sometimes the app will tell you to take an exit that makes no sense, but then you find that you avoided a 30-minute jam. They're not always perfect, but way better than just knowing where you're going. ;)

I often travel for business and never use a map. All I need is the address and Google Maps tells me how to get there, and sometimes where to park.

I like to be away from technology whenever I can, but the smartphone GPS is a real game changer for me.
 
   #9  

caver

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I've had numerous GPS units over time. I get the units from Garmin you can load maps into like Topo or City Navigator. The current one I've had for many years a Garmin Montana 600. You can customize screens and even setup profiles for like straight line gps navigation or follow road navigation. The downsides is they are proud of these units and the mapping software.
If I'm out in the sticks and have the topo maps loaded I can switch maps for interesting places like this.
20200903_173915[1].jpg
 
   #10  

deserteagle71

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Thanks for the info, Looks like a Garmin is the way to go. Traffic option seems to add almost 50% to the price, and from what I can tell from the write-ups still requires a "compatible" smart phone so in my case seems like a waste of money. Probably much more handy for commuters.

I notice Amazon lists a lot of refurb/used units. Good idea or not? I'm a bit skeptical about buying used...if it was working OK, why would someone get rid of it? I can't imagine new ones are all that much better than one only a few years old.

Also, is an outside antenna a good idea? I had one in my company truck at the last place I worked, and it seemed to take forever to lock on satellites thru the windshield...an external antenna was pretty much a must, but this would have been an early-mid 00s vintage unit, I would hope newer ones would be better.

Don't know about the used units - but the refurb units are just fine. They've been tested so you know they work.

External antenna is not needed in most cases. Matter of fact, most of the newer automotive units have no external antenna port so you can't use an external antenna. All my older units did have them but the only time I found an external antenna necessary was in my truck with a metal-bodied cabover camper that covered the whole cab and a good part of the hood of the truck. Otherwise the units work fine in all my rigs without needing an external antenna.

This is an excellent source for anything GPS: Garmin GPS, RAM Mounts, Lowrance GPS at GPS City
 
 
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